Sometimes you just want to attack.
Ever since Who's the Beatdown came around and gave a catchy title to one of Magic's most important concepts, the idea of being “the beatdown” has come up often. When understood, it can really help guide your gameplay in matches, deciding whether or not you win the long game. Of course, it's also just used to describe aggressive decks that want to kill an opponent as quickly as possible through combat.
No deck beats down better than this.
The deck starts with a ton of one-drops, with Wild Nacatl leading the pack. Alongside it is probably the best aggressive creature in Magic history in Goblin Guide (with an obligatory shoutout going to Kird Ape), as well as newcomer Narnam Renegade. It's this creature – along with Hidden Herbalists – that have breathed new life into this strategy, and made it a competitive deck that I believe has the chops to compete this week at Grand Prix Las Vegas.
I'm not necessarily a fan of all-out aggro myself, but I have to admit this deck has a certain charm to it. Wild Nacatl, Burning-Tree Emissary, Burning-Tree Emissary, Reckless Bushwhacker, attack is something that's fun to do every now and then. Once you have a big board, Atarka's Command makes sure the creatures hit home. With eight three-mana burn spells and eight haste creatures, the deck even has a bit of reach if opponents manage to stall out the initial rush. And, unlike a deck like Burn, pure life gain isn't as effective against this deck because the damage sticks around in the form of creatures rather than burn spells.
Reckless Bushwhacker is secretly the key to the deck, and I'd even consider cutting the Rancor and/or another Hidden Herbalists to play Goblin Bushwhacker for even more busted starts. Herbalists is sweet, but it's no Burning-Tree Emissary – the deck is very greedy for red mana, so getting two green is often just a waste unless you have Manamorphose in hand.
Speaking of, Manamorphose may look odd here as a spell that doesn't “do” anything, but it serves a few key purposes. For starters, it in many ways makes this a 56-card deck, similar to the way Gitaxian Probe used to behave. But it goes a bit further than that, because it can fix your mana when needed, and provides an easy way to surge Reckless Bushwhacker, which is probably the most important individual card in the deck.
Overall, this deck has a lot of punch in Modern and can easily make a run in a tournament. Of course it is at the mercy of its topdecks in many matchups – and Timely Reinforcements is a big problem – but overall this is not a deck I would ever like to see across from me when I sit down to play a match.
On another note, I'll be at Grand Prix Vegas this week! I'll be working coverage at the event, so I'll be on site the entire time. I love meeting readers/viewers at events, so don't be afraid to come up and say hi! I'll even have some sweet Brainstorm Brewery tokens on me to give out.
Thanks for reading,